Bibliography – Science – These bacteria eat heavy metals and sweat gold nuggets

If, for some reason, the hen laying the golden egg appears during a conversation, we’re almost sure everyone will think of the famous Hungarian folktale or trade term used for a very profitable business – but certainly not bacteria.

However, the situation is that Cupriavidus metallidurans And the hen that lays the golden egg has more similarities than you might think, except, of course, that while the first does exist, the second is just a fiction, at least according to our current knowledge. the Cupriavidus metallidurans Their special feature is that they live in an unusual soil rich in toxic elements, which bacteria convert into substances that they can handle more easily.

The toxic elements involved include gold and copper, which can be deadly in large quantities, but bacteria have evolved to require copper to survive. However, if too much copper gets into your body, the bacteria are able to activate an enzyme called CupA, which helps remove the excess – read on IFL Science.

Apart from the toxic heavy metals, the living conditions are not bad in these soils. There is enough hydrogen to conserve energy and there is almost no competition. If a creature decides to survive here, it must find a way to protect itself from toxic substances

one explanation in his research Dietrich H. Ness, microbiologist at Marton Luther University Halle-Witenberg.

The situation is completely different with gold

However, something very strange happens when gold is present. Compounds of copper and gold are highly toxic, so bacteria have to fend for themselves. In order to do this, the previously mentioned CupA enzyme becomes inactive, and another enzyme, CopA, begins Cupriavidus metallidurans For production, which converts copper and gold compounds into forms that are difficult to absorb.

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This ensures that less copper and gold compounds enter the cell. The bacteria are less toxic, and the copper-pumping enzyme can get rid of excess copper without hindrance. However, everything has another consequence, as hard-to-absorb gold compounds are transformed into harmless gold nuggets the size of just a few nanometers on the outside of the cell.

Nice added.